All words and photos: Kirstie Jeffrey
The first time I heard Delta Rae’s frontman Eric Hölljes was outside of my dorm room window sophomore year of college circa 2009. I never thought I’d be taking pictures of his sold-out event at one of the best clubs in D.C. four years later.
Although both Eric and Ian Hölljes went to Duke University, the two–along with their singer sister Brittany–hail from Durham, North Carolina. The folk-rock band is now based out of the rural southern city and retains deep ties with their southern roots. The band is named for a story that the siblings’ mother created about a southern belle named Delta Rae. The band is rounded out by the Hölljes’ three best friends, Elizabeth Hopkins (vocals), Mike McKee (drums), and Grant Emerson (bass). With their genetic talent and original sound, this family oriented band is taking the folk scene by storm.
When preparing to see Delta Rae, I turned on “Bottom of the River” and proceeded to blast this haunting tune in my dingy apartment with thin walls. My less-than-musical roommate asked if I was listening to jailhouse rock. This question undoubtedly originated from the unique use of the chains and
barrel incorporated into the folk tune.
When opening the song at the 9:30 venue, Eric proclaimed it to be “chain time” and proceeded to take a giant metal chain and smash it into a tin trashcan while little sister Brittany belted out the song. The band has an overwhelmingly apparent trust in one another as the artists operates in unison with an array of instruments that range from tambourine to a barrel maraca that fly between them. At any given moment a member of the band can be playing guitar, banging on a drum, singing or free-styling with drumsticks. Their vivacious energy onstage is what makes them so fun to watch.
Delta Rae has had a whirlwind of a year, from signing with a record label, to campaigning for Obama, appearing on VH1 and having their music videos run on the E! Network, it is safe to say Delta Rae has had the best 2012 ever. The band wasn’t ready to stop there. They grabbed 2013 by the balls when the band’s lead guitarist, Ian Hölljes, proposed to his girlfriend of seven years on-stage during their New Year’s Eve performance in their hometown.
As female fans swooned, the band members were his ultimate supporters as they dragged the girlfriend on stage and a week or so later, at 9:30
Club, reminded the audience which song Ian popped the question to. This down to earth band killed it for a crowd of mid-twenty somethings wearing cowboy boots; apparently there are enough of them in DC to sell out the club.
Delta Rae’s set list consisted of crowd favorites, a throw back cover and a brand new song “only played ever in [their] living room.” For their final song in their encore, the band walked off stage with instruments in hand to play in the center of the crowd floor. If you ever have the chance to catch this band of romantics and siblings live over a beer or two, you will not be disappointed.